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Editor's viewpoint: Nestle's L'Oreal decision is worth it

11 February 2014 | Dean Best

After a period of flagging sales, Nestle investors may have been hoping the food giant would offload its stake in L'Oreal to fund a programme of share buybacks. In fact, the company has decided to only trim its L'Oreal stake and, in the process, gain full control of a skin health venture between the two sides - a move that underlines Nestle's wise longer-term strategy to target health and wellness in its broadest sense.... read more


Editor's viewpoint: Searching for special K

10 February 2014 | Dean Best

Kellogg continues to see its cereal sales come under pressure and is set to launch a marketing push that puts its namesake brand front and centre. But will that be enough to revitalise that part of its business?... read more


In the spotlight: Hain Celestial must be wary of over-extending

7 February 2014 | Katy Askew

Hain Celestial has rapidly grown its business by expanding into new categories and markets through a series of acquisitions, notably in the UK. However, such rapid expansion has its challenges. Perhaps execution issues at Hain Daniels, the US group's UK-focused business, could be viewed as a warning to management that the group should be careful not to over-extend itself, Katy Askew suggests.... read more


Consuming issues: Tacon's role broader than she thinks

6 February 2014 | Ben Cooper

In London this week, UK Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon outlined what her position was - and was not - set up to do. However, Ben Cooper argues her role has wider implications than policing the relationship between retailers and their suppliers.... read more


Comment: United Biscuits sale unlikely in the near-term

4 February 2014 | Katy Askew

Much media attention has focused on whether the private-equity owners of United Biscuits are preparing to sell off the UK biscuit maker. However, Katy Askew suggests, a sale is unlikely to be on the agenda in the near term.... read more


Comment: Wal-Mart fails to capitalise on Target weakness

3 February 2014 | Katy Askew

News Wal-Mart has lowered its full-year earnings forecast reflects more than the drag of store closures as it adjusts its international portfolio. The US retail giant is struggling to grow its top-line at home and lower fourth-quarter comparable domestic sales suggest it failed to capitalise on the data breach scandal that hit key competitor Target Corp., Katy Askew suggests.... read more


Shopper trends: Measuring the real impact of product availability

3 February 2014 | Mike Ray, IRI

The impact of availability gaps is something not regularly measured by retailer or supplier. Yet readily-available information sources can be used to quantify the effect on the bottom line - and help improve the in-store experience for a shopper, says IRI's Mike Ray.... read more


Comment: Super Bowl ad to pit Nestle against Hershey and Mars

31 January 2014 | Katy Askew

The news Nestle will - for the first time - be buying airtime during the Super Bowl is much more significant that the usual "advertising investment" stories that cross our news desk. It suggests that the company has re-focused its attention on the US market and intends to pit its confectionery brands against the likes of Hershey and Mars.... read more


Comment: Food majors eye Mexico as obesity debate looms large

27 January 2014 | Katy Askew

The link between a nation's economic health and the health of its population - "health is wealth" - was a key message coming out of a round table event at the World Economic Forum this weekend.... read more


Best bits: Tilda set to bolster Hain's UK stable

21 January 2014 | Dean Best

Hain Celestial, the US food group, has pounced yet again in the UK. The US group has made a flurry of deals in the UK in recent years but has faced challenges with some of its purchases. Tilda could be a more positive experience.... read more


Consuming issues: Battle lines drawn over added sugar

15 January 2014 | Ben Cooper

The leading health experts behind the Action on Sugar campaign, launched last week, believe the success in driving down salt intake in the UK following the launch of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health campaign can be replicated with sugar. Ben Cooper has his doubts.... read more


Comment: E.Coli recall could sour Fonterra's reputation further

15 January 2014 | Katy Askew

Food recalls are part of the industry in which we operate. Even companies with best-in-class safety and quality standards can, from time to time, be forced to recall product. However, when New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra issued an E.Coli recall earlier this week, echoes of last year's botulism scare jumped to mind. With this fresh recall coming hot on the heels of such as massive blow, Katy Askew suggests Fonterra could find its reputation tarnished further still.... read more


Best bits: Industry beware as obesity returns to spotlight

13 January 2014 | Dean Best

It is the time of year when health is on many of our minds and, in recent days, obesity has led the news agenda. Today, in the UK, there were claims forecasts may end up having under-estimated the problem. The food industry needs to be seen to be acting on the issue or end up being seen as part of the problem.... read more


Shopper trends: Cereal firms react as breakfast habits evolve

8 January 2014 | Jason Stroud, IRI

Major cereal manufacturers are reporting disappointing sales and there has been a decline in volume sales over the last few years. It would be easy to think that this GBP1.3bn market (in the UK alone) had gone stale, but with pockets of growth and lots of innovation, this is one category that is certainly hotting up.... read more


Comment: Hershey makes serious move in China

2 January 2014 | Dean Best

The final full week before Christmas saw another notable international move from Hershey, with the US confectionery giant underlining the seriousness of its ambitions in China.... read more


Comment: Investment boosts reputations of Tesco and New Delhi

23 December 2013 | Dean Best

It is, for both sides, an investment that can help improve their reputations. Tesco's plan to run multi-brand retail outlets in India demonstrates to the market the UK retailer, for all its problems, still has plans for growth. India's government will be happy that, 15 months after it pushed through plans to allow overseas players to invest in multi-brand retailers, someone has finally taken the bait.... read more


Best bits: Kellogg may have to be more radical

16 December 2013 | Dean Best

The first significant impacts of Kellogg's plan to free up resources to boost its faltering business in mature markets (and invest in emerging economies) were revealed last week. However, the US food group may have to make bolder moves to shore up its long-term growth prospects.... read more


Consuming issues: Why Wilmar palm oil move is good news

13 December 2013 | Ben Cooper

The upbeat response to the most recent announcement concerning the sustainability of palm oil owes little to such cultural pre-programming or seasonal hyperbole. The commitment to the sustainable production and sourcing of palm oil made by Wilmar International is, quite simply, extremely good news, writes Ben Cooper.... read more


Comment: More NPD will not get US gum out of sticky spot

12 December 2013 | Katy Askew

US gum sales have been in decline since 2010. The category is failing to attract what were once its key consumer group - young people. Mondelez International's move to extend its Sour Patch Kids brand into gum, teaming it with Stride, is a clear attempt to reach out to this demographic. However, Katy Askew is dubious about whether this will result in long-term sales lift.... read more


Comment: Price is key for retailers in Ireland

9 December 2013 | Katy Askew

Pressure on household incomes in Ireland has been exacerbated by persistently high grocery inflation this year. As a result, price positioning has become absolutely key for retailers operating in what is a highly competitive market, Katy Askew suggests.... read more


Best bits: Little sign of challenges easing for Tesco

9 December 2013 | Dean Best

This coming March, Philip Clarke will have been Tesco CEO for three years. It has been a challenging period and, at least in the short term, there is unlikely to be any let up.... read more


Comment: ConAgra battles consumer tide with innovation push

5 December 2013 | Katy Askew

ConAgra Foods' move to step up innovation is a sensible response to disappointing first-quarter sales. But, as the innovation pipeline kicks in, will this be enough to retain consumers won over to the US food group's ready meals and meal solutions during the downturn?... read more


Comment: Unilever's wise - and necessary - consumer push on sustainability

20 November 2013 | Dean Best

At last. The work the food industry has made on sustainability - from curbing carbon emissions and reducing waste to responsible sourcing and nutrition - should, even to its harshest critics, should be recognised. However, the time has come for the largest manufacturers and retailers - those with the marketing muscle - to start talking directly to consumers. And Unilever, the world's second-largest FMCG advertiser, has started to do just that.... read more


Shopper trends: Balancing quality and value as food prices rise

20 November 2013 | Tim Eales, IRI

Across Europe - and in the US - private-label prices are, generally, continuing to rise. Consumers have yet to baulk at the increases. However, as IRI's Tim Eales notes, as the price gap with brands narrows, retailers must work harder to convince consumers of their own-label proposition.... read more


Comment: Burton's set to accelerate growth with Ontario Teachers' backing

19 November 2013 | Katy Askew

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, the Canadian pension fund, has taken majority ownership of Burton's Biscuit Co., ending months of speculation over who would walk away with the UK firm. The news provides clarity over the likely direction Burton's will take - confirming a focus on power brands and international expansion, Katy Askew suggests.... read more


Comment: All eyes on Saputo as Bega shows hand on WCB

14 November 2013 | Dean Best

Two of the bidders for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory have this week made fresh offers for the Australian dairy. The focus now moves to the third suitor - Canadian dairy giant Saputo, which has long coveted an entry into the market and is eyeing the business as a way into Asia.... read more


Consuming issues: A taxing question

14 November 2013 | Ben Cooper

As it has done elsewhere, the food industry is opposing the imposition of a tax on sugary drinks and high-calorie foods in Mexico. The industry has been generally successful in forestalling the imposition of nutrient taxes and its reasons for opposition - such taxes are ineffective and regressive - carry some weight. But when industry is seen to have prevailed in debates purely by dint of massive lobbying power, issues of trust and credibility inevitably arise.... read more


Best bits: Nestle, Kellogg latest to reappraise businesses

11 November 2013 | Dean Best

Food giants Nestle and Kellogg have become the latest companies to make structural changes to their businesses. Nestle has sold the bulk of its Jenny Craig assets and more disposals could follow, while Kellogg is to cut jobs and plough the savings into boosting growth.... read more


Comment: Sat fat pledges highlight work ahead for dairy

30 October 2013 | Ben Cooper

As UK industry moves to lower saturated fat were making headlines, the World Dairy Summit in Japan was hearing a warning of the "challenges" the sector faces on diet and nutrition issues. Dairy manufacturers have made some efforts but, Ben Cooper writes, with the sat fat initiative following this summer's hybrid labelling scheme, the sector faces more work ahead.... read more


Consuming issues: Give Tesco some credit on waste

24 October 2013 | Ben Cooper

While there has been plenty of condemnation for Tesco on its announcement on waste, it deserves praise first for its candour, writes Ben Cooper.... read more


Shopper trends: OFT rules mean changes to promo landscape

24 October 2013 | Richard Moule, IRI

The UK's Office of Fair Trading's new guidelines on offers will shake up the way products are promoted, argues IRI's Richard Moule - and manufacturers are set to gain the most.... read more


Best bits: Adapt to - don't abandon - emerging markets

21 October 2013 | Dean Best

Emerging market economies are cooling but markets like Brazil and China can still offer opportunities for growth. Adapting to a steadier pace of growth will be the name of the game, as Wal-Mart and Nestle highlighted last week.... read more


Consuming issues - Obama anti-obesity drive still moving

7 October 2013 | Ben Cooper

Children's food advertising is no longer on the Obama policy agenda but the administration is still actively engaged on the issue, as last month's event at the White House demonstrates.... read more


Comment: Emerging markets remain key long-term play

1 October 2013 | Dean Best

There is no doubt trading conditions in the world's key emerging markets is tougher than in recent years and the short-term outlook for some economies remains muted. However, the longer-term potential of markets like the BRICs remains attractive.... read more


Comment: Premier focused on long-term with CFO appointment

24 September 2013 | Katy Askew

The news that Premier Foods CFO Mark Moran will leave the company has again thrown into the spotlight the financial pressure the Hovis maker is under. However, in former Dairy Crest executive Alastair Murray the company has found what looks like a safe pair of hands and, significantly, the move emphasises Premier's commitment to building a stable management team in the long term.... read more


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